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Music Blog

Interview: Musician/actress Kim Taylor's crossover success story

by Austen Diamond
- Posted // 2013-01-17 - Musician Kim Taylor made her acting debut in I Used to be Darker, which screens at Sundance this week. She will also perform an intimate concert Jan. 22.

The Ohio-based bard’s most recent music is “about heartbreak, passion, hope, failure, struggle and how to stay grounded,” and with its sparse, melodic playing, it has a cinematic quality -- little wonder why she was cast in her first feature role.

From the Sundance film guide: “I Used to Be Darker is a story of people finding each other and letting each other go; of looking for love where they have found it before; and, when that does not work, figuring out where they might find it next.” Read more about it and check out screening times here.

Taylor will perform at the ASCAP Music Cafe on Jan. 22; the show is open to all credentialed festival-goers.

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Taylor talks about her acting debut, the similarities between performing music on a stage and acting and more:

City Weekly: I Used To Be Darker is your acting debut. How did you come to be cast for this role? Had you wanted to act previously?

Kim Taylor: Co-writer Amy Belk and I met when we were in our late teens. We sorta, kinda kept in touch through the years. Amy followed my music career and I was very envious of her graduating from Iowa Writer's (I'm a huge Flannery O'Conner fan). About three years back, she e-mailed me out of the blue and asked if I'd ever wanted be in a film, to which I promptly replied, “Do what?” A year later, writer/director Matt Porterfield and Amy came to see me at a show in Charlottesville, Va., which was, I came to find out later, part of my audition. As for wanting to act previously, I'd honestly never given it much thought. I've been so consumed with making music for so long. But I'm always up for creative challenges, so that's why I said yes.

CW: Did you find that there was any crossover between performing as a musician and performing as an actor?

KT: Yeah, for sure. Performing requires vulnerability and preparation, of course. It also requires you to really ignore everything around you and stay focused on your lines or your song. There's so much overlap. I've been in front of a crowd for so long that I was already used to being watched, so to speak. Being on camera, well, they're just muuuuuch closer. But I'm really fascinated with acting now. It really is such a difficult discipline. With music, I can show up in rags and get the song recorded and you the listener can walk away with the illusion of grandeur. But with acting, everything is exposed. I just love it.

CW: When you played music in the film, would you get yourself in the same head space as when you play music on a stage, or was it different because you were also acting?

KT: Oh, yeah, same head space. Playing music onstage all the time is a kind of acting. So, that wasn't much of a stretch for me.

CW: Did you feel connected to the songs that you sang in the film? If so, in what way?

KT: Well, for certain I'm connected 'cause I wrote them! Both of the songs I wrote and performed in the film came out of my own struggles with finding my place, missing my family, being overwhelmed with regrets. Music is often a way that I comfort myself first, and my hope is always that the comfort extends beyond myself.

CW: Were you influenced in any way after your acting debut in how you wrote for your forthcoming album Love’s a Dog?

KT: Maybe not so much influenced as inspired. I was completely inspired to be around a group of working artists when I did Darker. It gets a little lonely, and I don't do a ton of co-writing, so to be around a group of people that live, eat and breathe art in all of its forms is extraordinarily nourishing for me. I kept that high going as I dug into writing the songs for.Love’s a Dog

CW: Talk a little bit about Love’s a Dog.

KT: Ah. Well, Love’s a Dog is a record about heartbreak, passion, hope, failure, struggle and how to stay grounded. The songs stemmed from several conversations with various friends and family. It's sort of a hodge-podge of everyone's issues. I take in a lot of information, and then I bang it all out on the piano eventually. As for the title track, it literally came from my three -- at the time --love-of-my-life dogs often not giving me a moment's peace to work. I'd been working on this track off and on for some time -- inspired by the Bukowski poem "Love is a Dog from Hell" -- and realized that the rest of the song was literally at my feet, staring and begging, stage left. Woof.

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CW: I just listened to “American Child” (Darker Remix), and I can’t help but see a movie in my head of the drama that you poetically lay down. Have you ever considered yourself to be cinematic in the way that you write?

KT: I get from a lot of people that my songs have a cinematic quality, but I don't intentionally shoot for that. I just write in a way that makes sense to me.

CW: Have you ever been to Sundance before? Is there anything that you are looking forward to?

KT: This is my first Sundance and I'm stoked! Hmm. Looking forward to seeing some of the other films, hanging with the Darker crew and drinking some good wine.

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